Christmas Decorations and Anxiety
It is still a little over a week before Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations are already going up. I am used to that in retail stores, but not in the neighborhood. But this year, house after house has the Christmas lights, wreaths, and decorations already up. Of course, this is 2020 and why should we be surprised? This year, nothing has a sense of normal.
I saw a news report that encouraged people to put out their Christmas decorations early as a way to promote mental health in the midst of a season of disappointments and anxiety. After all, what is a better antidote to depression and anxiety than the sights and sounds of Christmas? Well, maybe; maybe not!
The Christian church has a long history of using the calendar as a way of providing both rhythm and meaning to the year. The regular celebration of festivals and fasts provides a kind of predictability to the year. Christmas follows Advent and Easter follows Lent and each of these seasons has lessons and meanings. Regardless how difficult your year, Christmas is coming! Besides predictability, the regular passing of the season also adds anticipation. Because we know that Christmas is coming, we wait!
It is the regular rhythm of the passing of days in season that gives life a sense of predictability and order. Structure is the best antidote to anxiety. By waiting, we know that Christmas is coming; and by waiting, we build anticipation; and by waiting, we are reminded that this too will pass.
I understand the need for some joy in the midst of the uncertainty of the pandemic, but the best antidote is the tradition of keeping the Christmas calendar. Regardless if nothing else is normal this year, the regular passing of the season is the same. There is comfort in that.